First up, who are the Servants of the Emperor? As Combat Cards’ most diverse faction, it includes pretty much every ‘Imperial’ miniature other than Space Marines.
Handily, that also answers question two – why not just call it the Imperial faction? Because the faction doesn’t include Space Marines, who are part of the Imperium, but most definitely aren’t ‘servants’ of the Emperor.
The reason we didn’t include the Space Marines and make one huge Imperial faction is that keeping them separate gives us more flexibility with our campaigns. A quick recap – each campaign pits a player controlled faction against another (computer controlled) faction. You can read more about them here.
If half the cards in the game were all lumped into a single Imperial faction then too many campaigns would have to feature that faction, undermining one of the best bits about campaigns – that they give you a reason to use cards from every faction at one point or another.
Enough about factions – how do the Servants of the Emperor fight? The short answer is ‘however you like’. This is due to the diverse forces you can include in this faction’s decks, either focussing on a single type, or mixing-and-matching:
- The Astra Militarum – we have cards from several Imperial Guard regiments, with a tendiency to focus on firepower, but with some outliers like the Death Korp Death Rider, or bodyguard Nork Deddog. Most Astra Militarum cards tend to be quite cheap, making them useful for building ‘horde’ decks or filling in a last few points you have to spend.
- Adepta Sororitas – the Sisters of Battle cards are a mix of firepower and melee, and tend to have high Wounds due to their power armour.
- Imperial Assassins – each of these is specialised at one type of attack, making them excellent for decks where most cards Ready (i.e. buff) a single attack type, allowing you to deploy the assassin late game and deliver the killer blow.
- Inquisitors – these are incredibly diverse, ranging from Psykers like Inquisitor Greyfax, melee specialists like Inquisitor Coteaz or ranged, high Wound monsters like Inquisitor Karamazov. Inquisitors also provide flexibility, as they can often use all three attack types – but their downside is their high points cost.
- Adeptus Mechanicus – as expected, most Mechanicus cards focus on ranged attacks, but they include several tough cards – such as the Onager Dunecrawler – which can be used to anchor your battle line.
- Adeptus Custodes – these golden armoured heroes are the elite of Servants of the Emperor decks, combining damage output and large numbers of Wounds. As expected, they cost a lot of points, so tend to work best when supported by other, cheaper cards.
- And of course, having gone on about factions at the start of this post, there’s nothing stopping you from including Space Marine cards in your decks. After all, there’s a long history of Marines coming to the aid of beleaguered Imperial forces. If you do this, you just need to watch that you don’t take so many Space Marines that your Warlord’s special rule becomes irrelevant.
All these options mean that Servants of the Emperor is by far the most flexible faction in the game, allowing decks focussed on ranged or melee attacks, raw survivability, setting up combo’s, etc. They can also be built around small and elite or horde style decks.
All of which is fitting, considering that one of the Imperium’s key strengths is the sheer number and range of forces it can throw at its opponents.